My mom fought a hard fight. She ran that race right down to the wire. She was a strong woman. In the end, though, age and biology overcame her indomitable will to live. She died as we sat close by in the late hours last night.
When we got her back to Hospice she went down even more rapid than she had been. Over night Wednesday I slept on the roll-away while my brother and my sister’s daughter stood by her bedside. From what I heard and was told they had a veritable camp meeting. She sang gospel songs and talked about Jesus.
Towards morning she became so weak she could no longer speak. Through the day she lay twitching and unresponsive as the nurses came and went with medications they hoped might relieve any pain she was in. I spent the day by her side as I promised, telling her I loved her and I was proud of her.
In the evening around eight or so I stood by her, rubbing her neck. She’d pointed to it though it was all she could do to communicate with a wavy hand. Her muscles were tense. All of a sudden she scrunched up, her eyes clenched, she turned a very dark red and shivered. She apparently suffered a stroke or something as I was holding her.
In a few seconds she stopped the incessant twitching she’d been doing. She became rigid, eyes fixed with labored breathing. We called for the nurse who said call the family by her side. I called my wife who had just left for home half an hour before.
For more than two hours her body clung to life though the eyes were vacant. Her breathing stopped and it was over.
I can’t say mom was a perfect mom nor that my childhood was wonderful. What I can say is that my mom loved me, my family, my siblings and their families with an unending and undying love.
Like most kids I didn’t spend enough time with her through the years, all wrapped up in my own life. In the end, though, I was there. I promised I would not leave her side and I didn’t.
When my dad died I was angry at God and at Dad for going so quick. The moment he left us I started a journey that ended the moment my mom took her last breath. Though I miss her very much already I have an understanding of life and death, a strength of purpose, I never had before. I was able to be strong for mom and family because of what I’ve learned from Gautama the Buddha. The answers I found in his words are the foundation upon which I have stood through these past few weeks. With mom’s passing I am firmly on a new path, putting behind the old, setting aside the days of confusion, moving forward.
I want to be the best Buddhist and the best servant of mankind I can possibly be. These weeks with my mother showed me where I can find strength. I learned I can do many things I would not have thought myself capable. I have a strong desire to give the same kind of compassionate service to others as I have given to my mom as Jesus and as Gautama taught us we should.
Yesterday is over. Tomorrow is full of promise. Today I shall be sad, I shall cry, I shall remember and I shall look upon a hundred, a thousand different reminders of the woman who gave me life and say “Thanks, mom.” I shall say goodbye and I will be assured that I have done my duty as a son, given her all my love and provided all I could for her as she ran her last mile, the one we ran together.
Yesterday I talked with my wife about the question of “assisted suicide” and all that goes with someone deciding to die or for someone deciding FOR someone to die. Today in a very real way I have to make that decision.
We’re not talking Kavorkian machine here but the decision is the same.
…is in the definition.
Trying to catch up here. I have been living in purgatory, at least, if not an upper level of hell. As I catch my breath I’ve been contemplating the levels of hell…
Go figure. Plans were to have some dinner and watch a movie with the kids while my wife went with her dad to the football game.
I sat down at my desk to check on mom. She had a guy nurse today I wasn’t impressed with this morning. Well, he wasn’t available. I checked back ten or so minutes later and the charge nurse said, “were you calling about your mother falling out of the bed?”
No, I told her, it was news to me. The nurse didn’t call. Was I pissed or what? Incompetent bozo. I called my wife who picked me and the kids up.
Doc didn’t come to examine her. He should have. I told the floor nurse I didn’t want the twirp nurse back in here. She watched mom until shift change.
The doc pulled mom’s NG tube out today. It was too early. She’s been barfing all evening. I’ve caught gobs in towels and rags and she’s been changed a dozen times. I fear the tube will need to go down again. I doubt very seriously she’ll be able to do without it.
Mom has another problem. She has an infection with a really nasty bug they’re not sure how to kill. Four of their strongest antibiotics did nothing. The warnings are to wear gloves or wash hands, avoid contact, etc. Well, it’s impossible to avoid contact and gloves are a bit useless. When she’s barfing she’s barfing. She got me good in the face a while ago. If I’m going to catch that thing I will.
I had hoped my older sister was going to come give some relief. They live in AR and have been fussing about not having the dough to come back. Finally they got here but the warnings (see above) spooked her off. So, she and her insane redneck husband have gone to the gambling boat over in LA. Ahh, so much for money, eh? I’m going to tell her to go on back to AR.
My younger sister doesn’t have the stomach for watching mom. She can’t handle it, mentally or emotionally, either. My brother has a very bad back and can’t travel down here or do much.
So, here I sit. Mom is waving her arms doing who knows what, mumbling, slipping into lahlah a little more. Sleeping too, I hope.
My mom loves me. I love her too. The thing is, life was hell when I was a kid. She has always been self-centered and was abusive when I was a kid. She’s always been a hypochondriac and demanded attention. She gave my dad hell all the time I was growing up. I could go on but there’s not much use. She’s my mom and whatever has happened was yesterday. I forgive completely. Today is the day we live in and today I love mom and she needs me. So, like I said, here I sit.
I’m not crying. Not yet. Not tonight. Just sad that Mom has gone away into her head and we’re really wondering if she’ll ever come back.
Oops, there she goes again.
They do, you know.
When I get tired I get all screwy. And I’m tired.
I was trying to dry out a get well card from my mom’s sister, Aunt Sybil. And damned if I didn’t bawl.
Aunt Sybil calls wishing she could talk to mom but she can’t. So she cries on the phone. I haven’t talked to her but my wife and brother-in-law has. Mom hasn’t.
This has been the month of Mom’s illness. She’s spent the month back and forth, mostly forth, in the hospital. Her idiot doctor was doing her very badly, not treating her for her blocked intestine but simply cleaning out what was clogged from both ends and then sending her home only for her to start throwing up and be back again. It has been hell for mom. I feel selfish just mentioning how much time we’ve been spending driving her here, waiting in intake or the ER or her rooms. She’s had several on several floors.
Finally, with a change of doc came some action. Last Thursday evening she went into surgery. Or was it Friday? Days run together. Nobody really believed she’d live through it. She did. They took her to ICU where she was until a couple days ago.
Most of the time she was in ICU she was only half here, mostly not, babbling and incoherent. Now, in this room where I sit with her, she rarely shows up. Her mind goes all kinds of places.
She has re-lived all kinds of things from what she’s been babbling. Night before last she was back dealing with the Texas City Disaster. She lost a brother in that. And she’s called dad. He’s been gone ten years. (Damn, ten years?)
I have kids. I’ve spent my time with them and since keeping them sitting around here has gotten to be a burden for them I haven’t come up here like I should have or would have liked to.
Two nights ago, after my wife and I went to bed, our phone rang. It was a nurse who verified I was mom’s son and handed mom the phone. She went on about bleeding and being in bad shape and all kinds of things weird. I drove up to the hospital. It was 11 PM.
Mom was still holding the phone, trying to get my brother. I put the phone down and told her I’d called him. It calmed her some.
The doctors call her problem disorientation. That doesn’t quite describe it. She’s constantly halucinating, rarely aware of where she is, usually babbling nonsense and occasionally yanking on IV’s, her NG tube and the covers, trying to get up. When she’s trying to get up she usually gets nasty. She curses and has called me a few choice names like Jackass and worse. Last night she whacked at me a few times, too.
Drugs, they say. Morphine. And maybe lack of sleep. And a little infection, maybe. Maybe hospital dementia? I think they’re full of shit. Just because they manage to get her to remember her name or the month (not the day) they think she’s not so far afield. They haven’t sat here hour upon hour listening to her babble.
I’ve gotten up half a dozen times to calm her, unwind her, settle her down a little while I’ve been writing this. If she isn’t watched she’ll pull something or wind up in a twist.
After I got here night before last I just stayed all night. I told her I had to go about three and she whined like a little girl and said, “no…. I want your company.” I stayed. I had to get our car back to my wife and watch the kids yesterday so I went home in the morning. I gave the kids assignments and napped three hours on the couch. My wife called at noon from the room and said she’s still wacked. A little later my brother-in-law called and said the same. I came back as soon as I could and I guess I’m here for the duration.
I’m tired. My cousin called just now.
OK, back again. Not going to get this finished. Sine that line just above my mom has called me bastard a few times and keeps trying to get out of the bed. Now she’s wadding up the sheets and trying to get up.
There was a moment, a few seconds, this morning around sun up when she showed up long enough to smile at me, say say she loves me and pat me on the cheek. I guess that’s why I stay.
The real world has been quite confusing. The online world not much different. The world at large still going to hell in a handbasket. And I just finished my coffee so maybe there’s a little time before life awakes.
The doc gave mixed signals about my mom’s surgery. Maybe she’ll do fine, maybe not. She probably needs to have the kidney out… but not if she’s going to die soon. She’s 86, you know. So. The surgery went well after all. No complications. She was out of the ER by noon, Monday. to ICU by 4pm. Into a room yesterday.
Yesterday, though, things went south. Not with the surgery but our relationship. Or maybe I’m just over-medicated? Well, no, not exactly. I went by to see my mom in the morning then came back home to get some things done. Around noonish I got calls from siblings that mom was in a room. A couple hours later while I was working in the shop my mom called from her room.